Pretty Little Liars by Sara Sheppard

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Pretty Little Liars

by Sara Sheppard

I was reluctant to purchase this series because it looked so frivolous.  As a school library we are constantly trying to lift the type of “literature” our students read. But I succumbed to some reluctant readers who really wanted to read the series.

I’m very glad that I did and admit that I was wrong about the depth of the books, still not literature, but definitely much more complex and thought provoking than I imagined.

So, the story goes a bit like ‘I know what you did last summer’.  The four friends have something to hide and somebody knows about it.  Add to this the fact that their friend Ali, the leader of the group and a not-so-nice bully goes missing.

As the story progresses somebody seems to know more and more about the girls and their secrets.  And all teenagers have secrets whether it is who they like, what they said to who or how things are going at home, in the crippling world of peer pressure some secrets are more damaging than others.

So starts this series of twelve books to date which became a popular TV series. Interestingly the TV show doesn’t mimic the books, characters that died in the books stay alive in the series, things that happened in one don’t necessarily happen in the other.  So you can’t pretend you read the books by watching TV, as a librarian I think that is excellent news!

Recommended age 13+

The Numbers series by Rachel Ward

Numbers

Chaos

Infinity

by Rachel Ward

A series set in the future, where everyone is tracked by the authorities.  In the first book it is Jem who can see death-dates when she looks in your eyes, a disturbing ability to have to keep a secret. She is living in a foster home and getting in trouble at school.  She doesn’t trust anyone.  An adventure ensues involving a surprising relationship with ‘Spider’ a boy from school.

I had to buy two sets of this series last year to keep up with demand. Now I’ve read the first two books and understand why they love it.  It is very clever and engaging and gets the teen voice right.  Four stars from me and a promise to finish the series, I really do want to know how it ends.  Recommended for Year 9+.ImageImageImage

A Good Keen Man by Barry Crump

A Good Keen Man by Barry Crump

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From Mrs Salter-  An iconic kiwi book from a iconic kiwi author.

The summer I discovered Barry Crump I read every book of his I could find.  I love them all.  I especially love his dry wit.  Barry Crump is a timeless storyteller whose books I use to convert boys from non-fiction only readers to ‘stories’.  The boys always come back for more and tell their friends how good they are. 

This was his first book and I have heard that he wrote it in two days.  Set in New Zealand bush, Barry works as a culler; deer, pig or possum, living rough in a hut or a shack.  He meets an amazing array of characters who he describes in humorous detail.  He is a ‘mans man’ most at home in the bush and happy with his own company.

If you are from New Zealand and haven’t read a Barry Crump book I challenge you to try one. 

The Recruit – CHERUB #1 – Book 10

SAM_8579The Recruit

CHERUB #1

By Robert Muchamore

From Goodreads-

CHERUB agents are all seventeen and under, and look like regular kids. But they’re not. They are trained professionals who are sent out on missions to spy on terrorists and international drug dealers. CHERUB agents hack into computers, bug entire houses, and download crucial documents. It is a highly dangerous job. For their safety, these agents DO NOT EXIST.

James is the latest CHERUB recruit. He and his sister were recently orphaned, and James has been in a lot of trouble. But he is brilliant in math. And CHERUB needs him. After one hundred days, the grueling training period is over. But the adventure has just begun.

From Mrs Salter

The CHERUB series is very popular in the library with intermediate students and it’s a gateway for those who do not enjoy reading.  For many it is their first positive reading experience.  I took the first one home, The Recruit, after a couple of years to see what it was all about, I was back the next day to get some more and finished the first nine books in just over a week.  Before that I only recommended to boys, not realizing all the really strong girls in the stories, now it is just as popular with the girls.  I have four copies of the first and multiple copies of the rest because once a student starts enjoying it they want their friends to as well.  What more could a school librarian say to endorse a book?

A few years ago I read that some libraries were concerned with the subject matter, the violence and that the rape made it unsuitable for students – there is no rape in any of the books.  Yes, the kids do go undercover and do witness and become involved in the seedy side of life, but that is part of the appeal to my readers, to see sides of life they will never experience (I do hope so anyway).  What makes these books better than others is they are well researched and inform the reader of topics in the headlines i.e. using animals in science, being lead into a powerful cult, becoming a victim of human trafficking, all real life dramas with life lessons thrown in.  

Personally I think Mr Muchamore has created a realistic, believable fantasy for my readers to enjoy, learn from and share with their friends.  Parents could also enjoy the series, I did.

Lauren Kate – the girls love her

Fallen Torment, Passion and The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove are new favorites in my library.  I hadn’t even heard of them when a non-reader who had been given Torment, asked if I could get Fallen for her. As I never want to miss the opportunity to hook  a new customer I ordered straight away.  Before it had arrived I had other girls coming to ask about the series, so the book was reserved before I even had it.

I now have the first three of the Fallen series and Natalie Hargrove and they are never on the shelves. Some prefer Natalie but most are completely taken by the romance of the Fallen Series.  My readers and non-readers are all enjoying the series, which is a great accomplishment for an author and makes the experience more enjoyable for the readers being able to share a book.

I finally took Fallen home for the weekend.  I’m sorry to say that I didn’t love it. I wish I had.  While it is much more fun to enthuse about a book and fan the flames, I just can’t do it.  I do understand why the girls love it, I think this is a case where I am just too old to fall for the drawn out “will he won’t he, does he doesn’t he”.

That hasn’t stopped me from recommending the book- I just say  “so and so loved this”  and it hasn’t stopped the books from flying off the shelves because many times the students are better at recommending to each other and a word of mouth sensation doesn’t need the librarian to sell it.

So the countdown begins, they can’t wait for the conclusion to Fallen, titled Rapture due out in June 2012,  I will pre-order and encourage them to try other authors while they wait. Thank you Lauren Kate for grasping the teenage girl mind and talking to them, they do appreciate it.


Lottie Biggs is Popular

 

Lottie Biggs is Not Mad

Lottie Biggs is Not Desperate

Lottie Biggs is Not Tragic

By Haley Long

These books are flying off my secondary school library shelves!  The latest word-of-mouth sensation.

I was a bit nervous when I received the first one, thinking it may be too racy for my junior fiction readers (ages 11+) so I read Lottie Biggs is Not Mad before putting it out.  Turns out it isn’t too old for my readers, and was an enjoyable read.  I do not want to misrepresent the titles because she is really mad, but in a overwhelming teenage girl way.  She has a less than perfect home life and makes some mistakes along the way, but I really liked her and wanted to know how she got on.

I think she’s a bit crazy – but in a good way.